Three Time UCF Psychology Grad Credits UCF’s Opportunities for Professional Success

DSC_7021Dr. Neil Ganey, ’99, ’01, ’04, ’06, recalled his best UCF memory as walking across the stage to receive his doctorate degree. While initially planning to be at UCF for a year or two, four degrees and ten years later, Dr. Ganey graduated with his Ph.D in Psychology.

“I had never worked as hard for or been as passionate about achieving something as I had for that. It represented the culmination of so much. It also represented a promise kept to those who helped me along the way,”
Dr. Ganey reminisced.

Prior to graduating with his Ph.D., Dr. Ganey also received a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and psychology, as well as his master’s degree in Modeling and Simulation.

Dr. Ganey now lives in Norfolk, Virginia where he serves as a lead human factors scientist in the Combatant Craft Division Test & Evaluation Branch of Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock. His work focuses on optimizing the design of high-speed craft for the warfighter.

Dr. Ganey thanks the education and experience he gathered while at UCF for the numerous job offers and opportunities presented to him straight out of grad school. He went on to encourage current students to seize the opportunities UCF provides.

“Opportunities exist at UCF. There are more opportunities than even all of the students there can take advantage of. Ultimately, it is up to you to seek out the opportunities that you want and to work to seize them. People often speak of luck and how someone who has a great life or an amazing career is ‘lucky.’ The one thing that I have found is that opportunities abound for so many people. The ones who seize them, though, are the “lucky” ones,” explained Dr. Ganey.

Dr. Ganey provided more insight on his time at UCF, his current position and shared more advice for current students and working professionals.

How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?

I was fortunate enough to have a graduate advisor who is a world-recognized researcher in our field and working with him, I had so many amazing experiences. From going to South Korea in my first year to gathering the data for my dissertation at the United States Military Academy, the opportunities that I had at UCF helped me become the person and professional that I am today.

Have you stayed involved with UCF since graduation? If so, how?

I have remained in contact with current and former students in the modeling & simulation and human factors programs at the UCF Psychology Department. While being a solid professional is important, it truly is who you know that is immeasurable in finding a good job. It is important to begin learning how to network in school so that you already have a network to reach out to when it’s time to look for a job and to become someone that people can reach out to when they’re looking for a job.

I’ve traveled to Orlando to watch a few basketball games, and also saw the Knights basketball team play Old Dominion here in Norfolk. In fact, it was at that game that I met some other UCF folks who live up here and who had some mutual friends. I’m also very excited that East Carolina is joining the AAC this year, since Greenville is only about an hour away from me. Charge on!

What is your favorite thing about your job?

There are a few things that I really enjoy about my job. I can get hands-on with my products more than most people I know and I have the flexibility to dig into topics if I need to. As an example, if I need to learn about maintainability, I can go and talk with some of the top marine mechanics in the world. Best of all, though, is that I get to drive boats and I get paid for it!

What is your most memorable experience on the job?

There was a situation that occurred where I had to take a stand. All of the evidence pointed toward an issue that could affect safety for a number of people. It was a very unpopular stance with many of the stakeholders involved because it could cause some delay and other issues. For a while, I was the only one taking the stand and it was tough. Many others would confide that they agreed with me, but they didn’t want to speak up. Eventually, the situation was remedied appropriately and most everyone agreed that it was the right thing to do. Nonetheless, it was extremely challenging. Taking an unpopular stand is always going to be challenging. If someone believes it is the right thing to do, and especially if it can affect the health and well-being of others, they should remain as strong as possible.

Dr. Ganey answered some fun questions to help us get to know him better.

What do you do for fun?

Even though I was born and raised in Orlando, one of my favorite things to do is snow skiing. I also am a bit of a foodie and when I get the opportunity, I enjoy cooking. A good friend of mine from UCF, Scott Broadway, ’02, ’06, and I cook quite a bit when we get a chance to get our families together. My job is also quite fun, especially the boat driving part. And I always enjoy spending time with my wife and kids.

What is the most generous or thoughtful gift you have ever received?

When I was in Boy Scouts, I went on a sailing trip from Islamorada to the Dry Tortugas and back with a number of other Scouts including my brother, and my dad. It was a great trip and had so many great memories. There was a picture that someone took of the ship sailing off into the sunset. My grandfather created a painting of the picture and gave it to me. Every time I see it, it brings back those memories.

What do you miss most about being a kid?

I miss having few responsibilities. When I was a kid, especially during the summer time, you could do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. If I wanted to go and play basketball, I did. If I wanted to read a book, I did. I still wouldn’t trade what I have now in my family and my life for that.

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